Good morning from Kansas City, Mo.,
That was good.
Now they have to do it again.
Even before the Padres had a big offensive game last night — you can read about the 13 runs and 19 hits in my game story ( here ) — they were talking about having more than just one.
“We have to put together a couple of games where we play well,” Bob Melvin said Wednesday.
“I don’t think this offense clicked like it could,” Josh Bell said minutes later. “And when it does, it’s just a matter of how long it can stay closed.”
Need the first to start a streak. And after finally breaking through — they had one more hit with runners in scoring position last night than in their previous nine games combined — the Padres weren’t shying away from admitting they need to be more productive more often.
“It’s the most important thing we’ve had all year,” Wil Myers said. “I mean, we’re in this stretch right now where everything is in front of us, and we have to go out there and do it. We can’t go through another stretch where we struggle and then have another big game. We have to continue to make good plays, good solid plays, hitting with runners in scoring position like we did tonight.”
That kind of explosion has often been unique to the Padres. They have mentioned several times throughout the season that all it takes is one game to get them going. Then they will have that game. And the next day, they will be back to scratch.
The Padres hadn’t scored more than three runs in a game since scoring 10 on August 17. They followed that game up by scoring once the next day. They combined for seven, 13 and 10 runs in back-to-back wins Aug. 9-12, but they scored a total of 12 runs in the four games after that. They have scored at least nine runs five times in their last 21 games. They have been sent off four times in their last 17 games.
They face Daniel Lynch (4-8, 4.58) today and Jonathan Heasley (1-7, 5.21) tomorrow.
It is beyond time to take advantage.
The hitting of Kris Bubic, who had a 5.29 ERA in last night’s game, was what the Padres needed to do. But it was a rare thing recently. Surprisingly so.
In their previous nine games against pitchers started against the Padres with an ERA of 4.20 ERA or higher, the Padres lost six times. And those pitchers combined for a 3.18 ERA in those nine games.
The Padres can make all their offensive struggles a distant memory if they can finish strong and go into the postseason playing the way they expected all along.
“Especially where we are in the season right now,” Melvin said, “we should be able to do that a lot of times.”
Azocar returns to it
You can tell Melvin really likes José Azocar. That’s mostly in the way the coach smiles when talking about the rookie quarterback, who had the team come out of spring practice with the idea that he would be a replacement on defense and running back more than anything.
“He’s there when we need him,” Melvin said last night. “He’s ready for whatever role we throw at him.”
Last night, Azocar started in center field and had a career-high four hits and a career-best triple. He is 5-for-7 since being retired a week ago. He is hitting .257/.300/.343 in 150 plate appearances this season.
Azocar, 25, said during his three weeks in Triple-A his focus was essentially on maintaining his focus. It was a curious admission, given that he has demonstrated a precocious knowledge of the game and a willingness to learn that has endeared him to the coaching staff.
“I tend to be focused, but sometimes I lose it,” Azocar said. “I have to be more focused and preparing all the time. … I have to keep working because sometimes I miss the little things and I can’t.”
The Padres average one more home run and have better hitting numbers across the board when playing away from Petco Park. But this is mainly due to a strong start on the road. Lately it doesn’t matter where they play.
Including last night, the Padres are hitting .240/.331/.367 and averaging 4.6 runs a game while going 7-9 in their last 16 road games.
In that same time span, they are hitting .250/.333/.434 and averaging 4.6 runs a game while going 10-7 at home.
They have scored nine or more runs four times in those 17 home games and scored nine or more runs three times in 16 road games. Also in that space were two home and two road closures.
Joe Musgrove had struck out 104 without drawing a walk before MJ Melendez watched a 3-2 pitch hit in the third inning last night.
Musgrove reached his one-hit curve just eight times on 17 pitches last night in his shortest outing of the season. His slider was a little better, but not as effective as usual. These are generally his outside pitches, and they allow his fastball to be more effective.
“I haven’t felt myself lately as far as my breaking balls,” said Musgrove, who gave up a run in the third inning and four more while recording just two outs in the fourth. “Both tonight were not that good. I got behind a lot of guys with breaking balls and then got into a situation where I had to throw the fastball and the changeup. Poor execution early in the game. … You’re behind guys with some of your best pitches, you have to give that up to get back. And the damage came at those points. The last bunch of outings I haven’t felt (like) myself. But that’s what I love about baseball. I’m very good at figuring things out. That trial and error. I don’t feel far away. Just one good day’s work away from getting back on track.”
Musgrove allowed just five runs (2.37 ERA) in 19 innings over his previous three starts. In the four starts before that, he had a 7.29 ERA over 21 innings.
Josh Hader could return to be the Padres’ closer at any time.
What the coaches are looking for is that he is comfortable with the changes in his performance. They might also want to see him be effective in one or two other low- or medium-value outings. But if he looks good, it’s likely not more than that.
“We don’t have many games left,” Melvin said. “He came here for a reason. This is to close. And he has quite a history of doing so. So if it’s one or two good outings, you can see him right away in that role.”
Hader allowed six runs on four hits, five walks and two strikeouts while recording four strikeouts in three outings before being benched last week. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning, allowing two soft singles and striking out three in a loss on Wednesday.
- With two scoreless innings last night, lefty Adrian Morejón has not allowed a run in a career-high 11 2/3 innings. This is a space that covers his nine August appearances.
- Ha-Seong Kim will probably return to lead off tonight with the lefty Lynch on the mound. Kim struggles significantly better against lefties, though he was just 1-for-4 against them last night, while 2-for-2 against righties.
- Austin Nola was 1-for-3 with a walk and a sacrifice fly last night. Since August 3, Nola’s .423 on-base percentage is second on the team behind Juan Soto’s .438 mark.
- Melvin said Soto was available as a pinch hitter last night and “there’s a chance” he could start today. I wrote in my notebook ( here ) how Soto looked in pregame drills. This story also touched on Fernando Tatis Jr.’s scheduled shoulder surgery, Jorge Alfaro’s knee injury that put him on the injured list and Luis Campusano being recalled to replace him, Bell’s improvement and Nabil Crismatt’s success when he recoils from the first blow he faces. alignment. The story noted that Crismatt had allowed at least one run in six straight innings in which he allowed the first runner to reach base. So what did Crismatt do last night? He allowed two singles to start the ninth before escaping without allowing a run.
- Musgrove has allowed a home run in seven straight career games.
- The Padres improved to 24-6 when they hit home runs.
- Myers hit his first home run since May 13, a 108-at-bat stretch that was cut short by a two-month stint on the disabled list because of a knee problem. Myers was 3-for-5 with a homer and a double last night and is hitting .296/.350/.426 in 60 plate appearances since returning from IL.
- Jurickson Profar was 2-for-5 with a walk and has a .393 on-base percentage over his last six games. He reached base at a .231 clip in his previous 15 games. He is hitting pitches out of the zone at a 14.9 percent rate over the last six games, where he was hitting at a 25.6 percent rate over the previous 15 games.
- The Padres have won 40 of 47 games in which they have scored in at least three games. That 85 percent win rate is fifth best in the majors.
- There are only six home venues in Major League Baseball that aren’t called “The Field” or “The Park,” and the Padres are playing in two of them (Kauffman Stadium and Dodger Stadium) on this trip.
Okay, that’s it for me. Talk to you tomorrow.